Static stretching is an excellent way to improve your range of motion, and thus your flexibility. These routines can be performed as a stretching-only routine, or as part of a workout (nearly always post-workout). There are varying opinions on the best time for stretching, before or after a workout, and we will cover that as well.
Static Stretching Basics
With a static stretch, you want to stretch to a point of discomfort (but not pain), and hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Stretch slowly to a point of mild discomfort
- Hold for 10 seconds
- Stretch again to a point of mild discomfort
- Hold for 30 seconds
Your muscle can be stretched by anchoring to a wall, pole, or other fixed object, or you can stretch without anchoring.
When it comes to stretching any muscle, Rule #1 is to never static stretch, workout, or flex a cold muscle.
You only static stretch a “warm” muscle.
Performing a static stretch on a muscle without first warming up can result in injury or a strained muscle. You can warm-up your muscles by doing a few minutes of light cardio, such as jumping jacks or jogging in place.
Workout injuries are nearly always the result of over-exertion on cold muscles and joints….and they are generally avoidable with proper warm-up and stretching.
Take time to properly stretch – you will save yourself so much aggravation!
Stretch Before or After Your Workout?
There has been much debate the past several years regarding the best time for this type of stretching – before or after your workout? The old school of thought, 20 years ago, was stretch before your workout to “loosen up your muscles.”
The fitness community, along with a lot of scientific research, has progressed a great deal since those days. So where are we now? (1)
Most fitness experts today agree that static stretching should be performed after your workout when your muscles are completely warmed up. This reduces the chance of muscle strains and tears.
Dynamic Stretching =
Static Stretching =
A Warm-up to Avoid Injuries
The proven workout process to warm-up and protect your muscles and joints as part of your workout routine is as follows:
- Light Cardio Warm-up – Do light to moderate cardio to warm up your muscles. This might include light jogging, jumping jacks, or hopping in place. Do this for 1-2 minutes.
- Dynamic stretching – This is best performed after the light cardio warm-up, but prior to any static stretch or resistance exercise.
- Workout Routine – Cardio Workout or Resistance Training
- Static Stretching – Then perform static stretching to create flexibility and improved range of motion.
The most important thing is to never stretch cold muscles. This is the most frequent way that people are injured in the gym, or anytime performing workouts. (2)
Static Stretching Exercises
The following links will provide you with specific routines to improve your flexibility:
- Collins, S. (n.d.). Stretching and flexibility: How to stretch, when to stretch. WebMD.
- Palmer, N. (2017, April 21). Should you do cardio before or after weights? HuffPost.